Bombay High Court Criticizes Light Sentence In POCSO Act Case

Strictly Legal

The Bombay High Court has criticized the imposition of a mere 3-year jail sentence by a special judge on a man convicted of attempting to rape a child. The case, which falls under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act), warranted a stricter penalty according to the court.

Justice Bharati Dangre expressed concern about the frequent errors made by judges and special prosecutors under the POCSO Act, leading to miscarriages of justice. She noted that the legislation was specifically designed to protect children from serious sexual offenses and that the authorities often failed to implement it effectively.

The High Court directed the principal secretary of the State's law and judiciary department to explain the steps to be taken if prosecutors fail to identify gross errors in implementing the POCSO Act. The court also asked for a mechanism to raise awareness about the act, given that even the investigating agency had not correctly invoked its provisions in the case.

The convicted individual in this case, a 64-year-old man, attempted to rape a 10-year-old child. The trial court imposed a 3-year sentence, invoking Section 18 of the POCSO Act, which deals with attempts to commit an offense. However, the High Court found this sentence inadequate, as Sections 4 and 6 of the act prescribe minimum punishments of 7 years and 10 years for sexual assault and penetrative sexual assault, respectively, and life imprisonment as the maximum penalty.

The High Court raised concerns about accountability, questioning who should be held responsible for such miscarriages of justice, and indicated that further directions might be issued to ensure greater accountability for POCSO judges.

The court's decision highlights the importance of proper implementation and enforcement of laws designed to protect vulnerable individuals, especially children, from sexual offenses.

Author: Anushka Taraniya

News Writer, MIT ADT University